Frequently Asked Questions
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o Why can't I have my friend, mechanic, or club member appraise my car?
Anyone can set a value on a car BUT.. will it stand up to a challenge? Some insurance companies are well
known for challenging vehicle values when a claim is made. It does not matter if they accepted it when
you bought the insurance or that you have been paying a premium on the value. It is easy for an
insurance company lawyer to challenge any value set by anyone who may have any possible conflict of
interest. This is not uncommon and many agreed or specified values have been challenged in court and
the car owner has lost, allowing the insurance company to set any value they want. To avoid this, it is
important to use an independent Certified Vehicle Appraiser that only does appraisals. Appraisals by
people who are associated with firms that buy, sell, restore, transport, or repair vehicles opens the door for
having the value challenged!
Even having a club member, show judge or other person familiar with your car does not mean the value
will not be challenged. The person setting the value must also have considerable credentials and
experience in setting vehicle values. To date, our Certified Vehicle Appraisal has never lost to a insurance
company challenge. Many values set by others have been set aside.
Don't take the chance - Get a Certified Vehicle Appraisal.
o Is the appraisal's fair market value what I can sell my car for?
Not necessarily. The fair market value is based on sales of vehicles like yours in the overall market. The
point of a fair market value is to set what it would cost you to replace your current vehicle with one similar
and in the same condition. The price you can sell your vehicle is based on what someone is willing to pay
for it as illustrated by the prices at some of the auctions. Many cars sell for more OR less than the fair
market value at the auctions. The value of a Certified Vehicle Appraisal is that it sets a documented value
point based on the condition of your vehicle. This gives you a starting point to determine the price you
wish to sell the vehicle for and make it is in line with the market place.
o Is the value of my vehicle the same as the auction prices I see on TV?
No, Not Really! If you have ever attended or seen the big auctions on TV, you can see that some vehicles
sell at prices way beyond what the average sales price would be. This can be due to many reasons such
as “Auction Fever”. Go to any type of auction and watch what happens when 2 or more people seek to win
an item. Also, take note that the actual selling prices does not include the auction commission which is
often an additional 10%. On the otherside, the owner received about 10% LESS than the selling price!
The real market value goes out the door and egos and competition take over. Also, the condition rating of
the vehicles at the auctions are not posted so it is impossible to determine what condition rating really is.
Be aware that auction information is what was given to the auction house by the owner and is NOT
verified! Auction prices can have an impact on the fair market value when a trend appears like the past
“HEMI” prices but remember, auction prices do NOT set the market values. The market values are
determined by the actual sales as reported to the various pricing guides. A Certified Vehicle Appraisal is
your best guide since it sets the fair market value and documents the condition based on the definition set
by the industry.
o What are condition ratings?
Condition Ratings are definitions of the car's condition as set by the pricing guides. They vary a little from
pricing guide to pricing guide, but overall, they are fairly standardized on the 1-6 rating. Briefly, a #1 car is
a concourse level show car that is not driven. A #2 car is a show car, not of #1 condition but is driven
usually less than 1000 miles a year and can compete for top honors if a #1 car is not present at a judged
show. 95% of the cars at shows and cruise-ins are #3 condition. These cars are driven and may show
some wear when closely examined. They usually look very good from 20 feet or so away, but close
inspection shows imperfections or wear.
A #4 car is a car that even from 20 feet away, needs restoration. It usually is a “driver” that someone really
enjoys. It is complete. A #5 car may or may not run, needs a total restoration and all the parts are there. A
#6 car is a parts car. To see a sample list of ratings, go to
http://www.firsttraderegistry.com/old_cars_price_guide.htm . On a Certified Vehicle Appraisal we have
further define the condition ratings to include a + or - rating (I.E. 2-) to expand the condition codes even
o I put $60,000 in my restoration, isn't that what my car's value is?
Unfortunately no! The value of your car is based on the condition, the current market value, and demand.
The condition determines the value so an excellent restoration will have a higher condition rating and
therefor be worth more. Don't be discouraged because the financial investment can make a big difference
to a potential buyer. This is only true if it is documented. It's not the amount of dollars spent but how the
investment increases the vehicle's desirability. To some buyers a beautiful purple metallic paint job may be
just what they wanted and other buyers who are looking for originality only, the paint decreases the value
in their mind. The value of your car is based most on what someone will pay for it. Sometimes you can
recover all or most of your investment, but, for example, putting $60,000 into a car that has a market value
of $10,000, will not recoup your investment. The real key is if you enjoy the car, then nothing is more
important. We've seen many cars that the money spent will never be recovered, BUT, the owner loves
his/her car and drives it often, Having a Certified Vehicle Appraisal that includes the listing of documented
investment will help you to potentially get a higher price from the “right” buyer.